Tuesday, April 29, 2014
Destiny is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice
“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” – Rumi (13th-century Persian poet)
Gospel Text: (JN 3:7B-15)
Jesus said to Nicodemus:
“‘You must be born from above.’
The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes,
but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes;
so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
Nicodemus answered and said to him,
‘How can this happen?”
Jesus answered and said to him,
“You are the teacher of Israel and you do not understand this?
Amen, amen, I say to you,
we speak of what we know and we testify to what we have seen,
but you people do not accept our testimony.
If I tell you about earthly things and you do not believe,
how will you believe if I tell you about heavenly things?
No one has gone up to heaven
except the one who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man.
And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert,
so must the Son of Man be lifted up,
so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”
Have you ever tried to explain to someone what it’s like to “fall in love”? You might start by talking about your beloved and all the qualities that are attractive to you. You might try to describe how being with this person affects you emotionally; or how the relationship has changed your perspective or deepened your values or influenced you to make different choices or given your life more meaning. It’s difficult to describe. Even more challenging is how to describe what it’s like to experience oneself as the beloved.
This seems to be the difficulty Nicodemus is having in today’s gospel as he tries to understand what Jesus means when he says “You must be born from above”. It is difficult, maybe impossible, for him to comprehend this rationally. It is only by entering into a relationship with Jesus - allowing himself to be loved –that he will be able to grasp this mystery. “No one has gone up to heaven except the one who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man.”
What happens when we allow ourselves to enter into a deeply loving relationship with another, being willing to be vulnerable and be seen as we are, with all of our strengths and faults and burdens? When we allow ourselves to be deeply loved, we are transformed. We become more patient, kinder, more forgiving, more hopeful, more compassionate, more just, more loving. We may have difficulty explaining it, but the transformation is visible and concrete.
Blessed Frederic Ozanam is a contemporary example of someone who allowed the Spirit of God to transform him. When thousands died in a cholera epidemic in Paris in 1832, many more were left destitute. Ozanam, a young university student, was moved at the hopeless state of families who had lost the support of their breadwinners. While all this was going on he was stung by another student’s remark: “In former times Christianity worked wonders, but what is it doing for mankind now? And you, who pride yourself on your Catholicity, what are you doing for the poor?”
In response, Ozanam gathered a few friends and began to do whatever he could to relieve the suffering he saw in the slums of the city. Eventually, a new organization, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, grew from Ozanam’s work and spread. Through the society, volunteers serve millions of disadvantaged people around the globe. They provide home visits, job training, housing assistance, food pantries, and medicine for the elderly. They pray with people, cared for their needs, and show the love of Christ in countless concrete ways.
God still calls us today to bear witness to Jesus through acts of generosity and loving service that are in line with our circumstances. We have to be willing to let God make us uncomfortable!!!! We have to say, “God, here are my plans, take the wheel of my life.” If we truly let God take the wheel and dare to serve others, God won’t leave us in need either.
So ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to see the needs around you. Sharing even a little of your resources, even a little of your time and attention, can make a big difference!
Posted by Joe Reciniello at 5:58 AM